The First Phase of Rehearsing: Zooming in and zooming out. Transience, loss, lines as traces

The first two weeks of rehearsals finished on Friday. People keep asking ‘how is it going?’, and I am reluctant to answer. I find myself in the midst of the chaos of having many ideas, lots of ‘stuff’ at my finger tips to play with, many possibilities, and not yet the clarity of knowing where we are all heading.

Zooming between the micro of small movement details in the studio and the macro of the context lying behind this work – journeying which is so vast – can I make a valuable comment on it? Is it important that the larger context can be read through the movement that emerges, or is it enough to know that the process of creation holds this at its core? A lot of questions – which is a good thing, but can be confusing, and a whole new world of interest and enquiry which arises from the variety of responses to the same material from each of my collaborators. They come with different interpretations, and perspectives – surprising, unsurprising,inspiring.

The work of land artists, Richard Long and Andy Goldsworthy have become of interest over the last two weeks. In our discussions about time and documenting journey through movement and visual formats bares relevance to their work, as does this notion of impermanence. In a conversation with one of my dancers, Tamar, she was talking of her feeling of constant loss with regard to dance. Dance is an art form absolutely of the present  – every moment is almost instantly past, and this is both exciting and tricky. This conversation reminded me of a quote I read years ago from choreographer, Steven Petronio: “I am driven by the power and impermanence of dance, an architecture of loss. Its delight is the active moment slipping through my grasp, the difficult pleasure of the present tense.” The work of Richard Long and Andy Goldsworthy relates here also – their art holds both an interaction with temporary impermanence  – perhaps a few seconds, perhaps a few days, sometimes longer together with the idea that every piece of work also lasts into eternity.  It is just that some traces maybe more visible than others: process and decay are implicit.

Lines as traces – maps as traces

“Our world is made up of lines, from comet tails to DNA. Everything is connected. Everything is sequential. Everything that moves, from snail to a lava flow, leaves a line, a trace of its passing. A line can be fate, a commitment, a fact, a relationship, a place. Some lines are well trodden paths, some intersect, some pass at a distance, some return to their origins. We all walk the line. We have an end and a beginning which is joined to a much longer invisible line in the past and in the future.”A.S from the forward to Richard Long Walking the Line

And so to come back to studio time – these journey maps can be worked into pathways, known and walked and moved by each dancer. The imprint, the trace they leave in the space is of interest to me. As I start to work with photographer and visual artist, Glasshopper, we begin to discuss how it might be possible to real time record these walked pathways and make them into a single still image that contains the whole trace – the residue becomes solid and lasting.

Richard Long, has spent the last 40 years developing art made by walking in landscapes. This provided him with the means to explore relationships between time, distance, geography and measurement. He too is interested to find ways of mapping journeys, documenting these walks through combinations of maps, photographs, or text works.

“The walk’s lack of permanence is intimately bound up with its subject. Nature is synonymous with movement and change. In providing a vehicle for exploring these issues, it is appropriate that the walk should be in harmony with them, providing a way of making art that is also impermanent.” by Paul Moorhouse, from  his essay The  Intricacy  of the Skein, the Complexity of the web: Richard Long’s Art

Maps record visible and invisible paths which are created by various kinds of touching. My understanding of my series of drawings, Mapping Journeys and the work that they have produced over the past few weeks in collaboration with Rohanna, Elena, Jennifer, Tamar and Tom – their brains, bodies, thoughts, responses, questions is just one of endless possibilities of ways in. What is visible, invisible, seen, unseen, forgotten, recalled? What is most striking? The maps are the embodiment of the process of the journey. What then is the dance that unfolds?

With Jennifer our discussion developed into a thought thread of phenomenology and perception of time. Present, past and future. Rohanna drew on more physical, practical interests of measurement and geometry. Tamar’s response, more of a narrative play – leaving, arriving, leaving again. In the posts that follow I will include some of their writings on their experience of this work.

More anon…


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